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agriculture


  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Europe's first farmers used manure 8,000 years ago

    A new study says Europe's first farmers used far more sophisticated practices than was previously thought. A research team led by the University of Oxford has found that Neolithic farmers manured and watered their crops as early as 6,000 BC.It had always been assumed that manure wasn't used as a fertiliser until Iron Age and Roman times. However, this new research shows that enriched levels of nitrogen-15, a stable isotope abundant in manure, have been found in the charred cereal grains and pulse seeds taken from 13 Neolithic sites around Europe. The findings are published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study suggests that Neolithic farmers used the dung from their herds of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs as a slow release fertiliser for crops....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Origins of agriculture in China pushed back by 12,000 years

    The first evidence of agriculture appears in the archaeological record some 10,000 years ago. But the skills needed to cultivate and harvest crops weren't learned overnight. Scientists have traced these roots back to 23,000-year-old tools used to grind seeds, found mostly in the Middle East.Now, research lead by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, reveals that the same types of tools were used to process seeds and tubers in northern China, setting China's agricultural clock back about 12,000 years and putting it on par with activity in the Middle East. Liu believes that the practices evolved independently, possibly as a global response to a changing climate. The earliest grinding stones have been found in Upper Paleolithic archaeological sites around the world. These consisted of a pair of stones, typically a handheld stone that would be rubbed against a larger, flat stone set on the ground, to process wild seeds and tubers into flour-like powder....

  • Originally published 05/05/2013

    The NYT Ignores USDA Discrimination

    Sharecroppers in Georgia, 1941. Credit: Library of Congress.The New York Times recently published a report that focused on fraud in disbursing settlements for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discrimination among African American, Indian, Hispanic, and women farmers. Reporter Sharon LaFraniere wrote of “career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination.”

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    Smithsonian’s American history museum begins creating archive on US farming, innovation

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is collecting stories about agriculture innovations for a future exhibition on American business.The museum is launching a web portal Tuesday for people to share stories, photographs and materials about innovations that changed farming. The museum also is accepting items already donated by farmers in Illinois, Tennessee and California for a new agriculture archive....

  • Originally published 03/04/2013

    Researchers uncover earliest tobacco use in the Pacific Northwest

    Native American hunter-gatherers living more than a thousand years ago in what is now northwestern California ate salmon, acorns and other foods, and now we know they also smoked tobacco—the earliest known usage in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new University of California, Davis, study. "The study demonstrates that tobacco smoking was part of the northwestern California culture very early ... shortly after the earliest documented Pacific Northwest Coast plank house villages," said the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science....

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    National Museum of American History seeks help building collection showing farm innovations

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History working with farmers to build a new collection showing the evolution of modern agriculture.The museum announced Monday that it’s working with the American Farm Bureau Federation to collect items that reflect innovation in farming and ranching over the past 70 years. Curators are seeking stories, photographs and objects for a future exhibition.The first donation was announced by a Tennessee farmer at the farm bureau’s annual meeting in Nashville. A multigenerational dairy will donate a computer cow tag system and photographs to show how the dairy became a modernized operation.The museum will open a web portal in March to collect stories and photographs online....

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